Clematis 'Hagley Hybrid'
C. 'Hagley Hybrid'©Ken Woolfenden

Clematis of the Month for December 2005

If you are looking for a reliable Clematis cultivar to brighten up a dark corner then C. 'Hagley Hybrid' is for you. It is good for a clematis beginner to start with and as such appears on our 'Clematis for Beginner's List', but it is also useful and rewarding for the more experienced gardener.

C. 'Hagley Hybrid' is an ideal plant for the small garden as it does not take up too much room. It does not grow much over 2 metres (6 feet), making a nice bushy plant which should be pruned hard every February. It is a free-flowering cultivar which blooms from June to late September in the UK. Being relatively short and compact also makes it ideal for growing against a fence, over low-growing shrubs and conifers or in a pot.

C. 'Hagley Hybrid'©Ian Lang/Clematis on the WebThe elegant flower bud literally unfurls to reveal itself as a beautiful shell-pink colour with attractive brown stamens as shown in the picture to your left (our thanks to Ian Lang and 'Clematis on the Web'). The flowers will fade a little over time as they age to give a colour similar to that of the flower in the big picture above, which is probably a unique colour for a late large flowering clematis. In North America C. 'Hagley Hybrid' is more commonly sold as Pink Chiffon™, which as a description gives a better idea of the colour of the flower. The flowers have from four to six pointed sepals and can be large for a late-flowering cultivar. Some books say that the flowers can measure well over 15 cms (6 inches) in diameter although in my garden I would say that 10 cms (4 inches) was more typical, but this could be because the plant was not regularly fed.

C. 'Hagley Hybrid' can be planted in any position including against a cold north wall but I would recommend that it should not be planted in full sun as the flowers will fade if given too much sun. Shade or partial sun is ideal. Being versatile C. 'Hagley Hybrid' can also be used in pots to brighten up a dull or shady corner on a patio where the flowers, especially when young, will glow like pink stars against the dark green foliage.

C. 'Hagley Hybrid' can be used with other late flowering cultivars to prolong the flowering season; perhaps a red such as C. 'Warszawska Nike' and a purple such as C. 'Gipsy Queen' to give a harmonious display and provide a light accent colour. Alternatively, Walter Hörsch recommends that it should be grown with dark or grey blue conifers, perhaps growing over them so you can look down and see the pink flowers against a background of contrasting foliage. In a previous garden I grew C. 'Hagley Hybrid' amongst, over and through two short rose bushes and a lavender bush. This combination worked well.

C. 'Hagley Hybrid' was raised by Percy Picton around 1945 and introduced by the late Jim Fisk in 1956. It received a well deserved Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society, UK in 1984. The RHS Clematis Register and Checklist 2002 notes that C. 'Hagley Hybrid' was raised by Percy Picton when he was head gardener at Hagley Hall in the West Midlands, near Stourbridge to the South West of Birmingham.

As Paul Picton explained to me, "Percy Picton, my father, worked for William Robinson at Gravetye Manor for 15 years and Clematis 'Hagley Hybrid' was descended from plants raised from seed collected from clematis growing at Gravetye Manor in the period when Ernest Markham was the head gardener." As Gravetye Manor is situated in West Sussex to the south of London the clematis obviously travelled some distance to their new home.

Unfortunately Paul Picton is not involved in growing or breeding Clematis although he is involved in the growing and breeding Asters.

Despite being raised in the UK, C. 'Hagley Hybrid' is found all over the world, as it deserves being such a good and reliable Clematis cultivar, although as mentioned above in North America, it is more commonly sold as Pink Chiffon™. Whatever its name it is a cultivar that I would recommend you try as I'm sure that you will enjoy its flowers and it is reliable and easy to look after.

Fiona Woolfenden Fiona Woolfenden

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